Building a house correctly is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires time, money, and labor. One of the most crucial aspects of home construction is adequate insulation. After all, insulation regulates temperature and keeps our dwellings comfortable, regardless of the season.
Home insulation can comprise various materials. Decades ago, the list included urea-formaldehyde foam. Read this brief guide to learn about urea-formaldehyde foam, how it was used in its heyday, and how it’s applicable today.
What Is Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation?
We will discuss urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) before we delve into its beneficial role in home construction. In essence, UFFI is a mixture of urea-formaldehyde resin, an acidic foaming agent, and a propellant.
This mixture combines to create an injectable foam. When it was first conceived, UFFI was often injected into areas behind the walls of homes. This seemed promising at first, but it would later prove to be an impractical application for this unique insulation method.
What Role Did It Play in Home Construction?
Now that we know what UFFI is, we must understand the history of urea-formaldehyde foam insulation and its role in home construction. UFFI was first conceived in 1950s Europe as an innovative method for insulating the cavities of wood-framed buildings. Installers could spray it into tiny crevices and holes. Then, it would expand to fit the dimensions of a wall’s cavity, and ta-da! You have functional, easy-to-install insulation. This was seen as a vast improvement over the tedious, traditional building insulation process, which often required complete wall removal. Through the 1970s, UFFI was a valuable tool in home construction.
However, in the 1980s, fear of formaldehyde off-gassing increased. Many homeowners in poorly ventilated homes began pointing the finger at UFFI for adverse health effects. As a result, Canada banned the insulation. A couple of years later, the US followed their example.
Where Does It Fall Today?
Because of these bans, insulation wasn’t utilized for some time. Here’s the good news: These bans pushed further study and research on the effects of urea-formaldehyde foam insulation. Interestingly, the findings conveyed that any formaldehyde from the insulation would dissipate within several days of installation.
This meant that formaldehyde foam didn’t pose the health risks people once believed. On top of that, these studies brought about a more precise way for chemical toll manufacturing plants to create insulation. The findings allowed us to develop better testing for UFFI insulation’s function and safety, including:
- Testing the age of a building with UFFI
- Inspecting for patched injection holes or oozing
- Examining the color and texture of the insulation
These factors help inspectors ensure that UFFI is up to date and safe to use. Thus, it can be a handy tool in constructing homes and other buildings.